Tranquil and picturesque in summertime, with its broad beach looking south towards Tenby, Caldey Island and distant Gower, the village of Amroth, on the boundary of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, has had a lively history.
With historic links with both the coal and iron industries, it has had a stormy relationship with the sea and within living memory seashore houses have been swallowed up by violent winter storms.
Prehistory has left its mark on the seashore and, at extreme low spring tide, the petrified forest can still be clearly seen where it was swept away by the rising sea level more than 7,000 years ago.
In the blue clay, fossilised animal bones, antlers, nuts and Neolithic flints have been discovered over the years; consequence of the apocalyptic break-through of the Dover to Calais landbridge in around 5,000 B.C. And the shore under cliffs still bears the scars of the iron trade, for iron ore was dug out at ‘The Patches’ between Amroth and Wiseman’s Bridge, and loaded onto beached boats for ‘export’ to other parts of Wales. The characteristic blue clay was also dug out and used to mix with small coal to make culm for the domestic fires, and also to produce fire bricks for the iron works at The Grove. Amroth was an important anthracite coal mining area until the end of the 19th century. The coal, which was the finest quality smokeless anthracite, much in demand in the area and further afield, was transported to Saundersfoot for shipment to other parts of the country. A few small remains of mines and tramways are still visible, to those who know where to look.
Amroth lies in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and serves as the southern start of the180-mile long Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which sweeps clockwise round the county to the Cardigan border at St Dogmaels. The path is part of the national Cistercian Way. Safe swimming in calm conditions and the presence of pubs, cafes and shops close to the beach, have made Amroth an ideal and popular family holiday resort. Its seafront looks out across Carmarthen Bay to the Gower Peninsula.
Severe winter storms in the 1890s and 1930s caused major erosion along the shore, sweeping away homes, workshops, gardens, garages and boathouses which are now but a memory in old photographs. The last bad storm to cause damage, before the local authority finally acted and built more effective sea defences, was in 1957-58, when many homes and one of the village pubs were flooded and the road undermined.
The ruins of Amroth Castle, rebuilt on the remains of an ancient fortress in the 18th century, and its claim to fame is that Lord Nelson once paid a visit to lunch with the family of the owner, Captain Ackland. He commemorated the special event by placing a plaque in the ceiling of his lounge. In the 1930s a tunnel leading from the castle to the beach or the nearby mill was uncovered, but it was filled in when the castle was requisitioned by the army during World War Two.